Francois Ozon

Francois Ozon

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BFI London Film Festival - 'The New Girlfriend' screening - Arrivals

Francois Ozon - BFI London Film Festival - 'The New Girlfriend' screening - Arrivals at Odeon West End - London, United Kingdom - Saturday 11th October 2014

Francois Ozon
Francois Ozon
Francois Ozon
Francois Ozon
Francois Ozon

Young & Beautiful [Jeune & Jolie] Review


Good

French filmmaker Francois Ozon continues to explore transgressive aspects of sexuality (see In the House) with this deliberately controversial drama about a teen prostitute. But since he refuses to indulge in the usual cliches, we don't react the way we think we should, so the film forces us to think about the story in a surprisingly fresh way.

The teen in question is Isabelle (Vacth), who in the summer of her 17th birthday orchestrates the loss of her virginity to a cute stranger. When she tells her little brother Victor (Ravat), he can't understand how Isabelle could so casually dump this boy. And she never tells her open-minded mother and stepdad (Pailhas and Pierrot). Back home in Paris, she secretly starts working after school as a high-class hooker, visiting her clients in pricey hotels. But when her favourite john (Leyson) dies suddenly, her secret comes out. And everyone wonders if she can go back to being a regular teen.

The twist here is that Isabelle comes from a liberal, wealthy family, and has no need to become a prostitute. She seems to do it out of boredom, because she doesn't need the money and isn't that interested in sex either. On the other hand, she loves pretending to be older than she is. Vacth reveals all of this through a remarkably transparent performance that's often unnerving to watch. By clouding her motivation, we almost become complicit in her actions. We certainly can't just sit back and watch passively.

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Jeune et Jolie Premiere

Francois Ozon - 66th Cannes Film Festival - 'Jeune et Jolie' - Premiere - Cannes, United States - Thursday 16th May 2013

In the House [Dans la Maison] Review


Excellent

With Ozon's usual sharp writing and direction, this black comedy is a fabulous series of provocations, challenging us to explore how we see, or perhaps imagine, the people in our lives. It's also a playful exploration of the nature of storytelling itself, using a teacher-student relationship to reveal all kinds of uncomfortable truths.

The teacher and student in question are Germain (Luchini), who's tired of teaching literature to illiterate students, and shy 16-year-old Claude (Umhauer), a gifted young writer. His essays spark Germain's imagination because they continue on from each other to serialise his encounters with the family of his friend Rapha (Ughetto). As Claude writes about flirting with Rapha's mum (Sagnier) or becoming pals with his dad (Menochet), Germain becomes gripped by the story. And so does his wife Jeanne (Scott Thomas), who sees this as a wonderful escape from the mundane pressures in her life. But in a private tutoring session with Claude, Germain crosses an ethical line. And things start to get strange.

Writer-director Ozon is wickedly blurring the line between fact and fiction, as everyone who reads Claude's essays imagines the people in ways that fuel their own fantasies. So events unfold through a variety of perspectives, some of which must surely be imagined, especially as Germain and Claude adjust the characters to reveal hidden secrets. Yes, this brings out the voyeuristic tendencies in all of the characters, and in us as well, since we too are living vicariously through people whose lives seem so much more interesting than ours. Even if they are supposed to be us.

Continue reading: In the House [Dans la Maison] Review

Potiche Review


Excellent
A sense of barbed optimism infuses this 1977-set French comedy. Not only does it keep a smile on our faces, but it also quietly says some potent things about old prejudices that still linger in Western society.

Life-loving Suzanne (Deneuve) is married to uptight umbrella factory manager Robert (Luchini). Their daughter Joelle (Godreche) is fed up with her controlling husband, determined not to become a trophy wife like her mother, while their son Laurent (Renier) is marrying someone Robert feels is unacceptable. Meanwhile, the union is on strike for better conditions, and when Robert refuses to give his workers anything, Suzanne starts negotiating with a union-friendly local politician Maurice (Debardieu) with whom she has a past.

Soon the children and Robert's secretary (Viard) are in the middle of a farce.

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Picture - Catherine Deneuve, Francois Ozon London, England, Wednesday 15th June 2011

Catherine Deneuve and Francois Ozon - Catherine Deneuve, Francois Ozon London, England - 'Potiche' UK premiere at the BFI Southbank Wednesday 15th June 2011

Catherine Deneuve and Francois Ozon
Catherine Deneuve and Francois Ozon
Catherine Deneuve and Francois Ozon

Le Refuge Review


Good
Ozon is back in sensitive-drama mode for this almost subliminal personal story of a young woman trying to piece together the fragments of her life and understand her conflicting expectations and desires. But it's not easy to get a grip on.

In a posh Paris apartment, Louis and Mousse (Poupaud and Carre) live in squalor, addicted to heroin. They overdose, end up in hospital and, when Mousse wakes up, her doctor surprises her with the news that she's eight weeks pregnant and alone. Louis' mother (Vernet) blames her for everything, so Mousse escapes to an isolated house on the coast. She's joined there by Louis' more sympathetic brother Paul (Choisy). And even though she knows that he's gay, she starts falling for him. Even when he hooks up with someone else (Louis-Calixte).

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5x2 Review


Good
François Ozon (Under the Sand, Swimming Pool) channels Ingmar Bergman rather than regular muses Alfred Hitchcock and Claude Chabrol for 5x2, the portrait of a disintegrating marriage that focuses on five key instances in the troubled couple's history. Ozon's tale is told in reverse chronologically, beginning with divorce proceedings and ending with a romantic first meeting, though unlike Gaspar Noé's similarly flip-flopped Irreversible, Ozon's narrative structure isn't simply a gimmick designed to gussy up otherwise straightforward material; rather, the upside-down construction strives to upend viewers' commonly held perceptions about the reasons why once-amorous relationships end in heartbreak. Assembled with more than a hint of repetition and, as a result, a frustrating lack of unexpected revelations, Ozon's latest peters out before its anticlimactic conclusion. Yet thanks to his sterling stars and a directorial attentiveness, the filmmaker crafts a mature portrait of a relationship's thorny complexity while coloring his domestic drama with an undercurrent of looming menace and bittersweet inevitability.

Ozon's story recounts the ill-fated union of Marion (Valerie Bruni Tedeschi) and Gilles (Stéphane Freiss), a wife and husband who, at film's start, are shown quietly finalizing their divorce in a drab office, their faces pained but stoic reflections of their relief, misery and nervousness over the end of their matrimony. Clearly indebted - in spirit if not in specifics - to Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage (including Gilles' beard, a nod to Erland Josephson's), 5x2 (before heading back in time) subsequently moves from this depressing administrative locale to a furtive, desperate motel reunion between the newly single Marion and Gilles where attempts to rekindle the sexual fire ends in physical and emotional abuse. This powerhouse confrontation finds Bruni Tedeschi and Freiss, their forlorn eyes captured in close-up, expressing without words the callous selfishness, lack of communication, and physical and emotional detachment that doomed their relationship. And the scene ignites the film with a promise of eye-opening bombshells to come about the couple's dissolution via the ensuing backwards procession through a dinner party with Gilles' brother and his lover, Gilles' injurious cowardice during the birth of his son, their drunken wedding night, and their first encounter on a tropical beach.

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Time to Leave Review


Excellent
Leave it to fascinating French writer/director François Ozon to take one of the most tired movie cliches of all time -- "I'm sorry, but you only have a few months to live." -- and turn into to a totally fresh look at what it truly means to live. Time to Leave shows how the final months of handsome 31-year-old gay fashion photographer Romain (Melvil Poupaud) turn out to be both the worst and the best of his life.

Handed his death sentence by his doctor, Romain chooses to let his cancer kill him rather than suffer through the indignities of debilitating treatment that even the doctor admits has only a five percent chance of working. But now what? Romain's first instinct is to push everyone away in order to protect them from the pain of watching him die. Always prickly with his family, who have struggled with his homosexuality, a family dinner he attends turns positively toxic when Romain insults his fragile mother (Marie Rivière) and father (Daniel Duval) and calls his sister (Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi) a bad mother. When his father drives him home, Romain asks him, "Do I frighten you?" Dad replies, "Yes, sometimes." Through all this, Romain has forgotten to tell them his big news.

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Sitcom Review


Weak
A tightly knit bourgeois French family flies apart in multiple spasms of insanity and sexual depravity in Sitcom, noted French director François Ozon's first full-length feature. The title indicates that all this is supposed to be funny, and it is at first, in a sort of Almodovarish way. But as the layers of weirdness pile on, any feeling of farce, which demands a light touch, is hopelessly weighed down. Blame it all on the white lab rat that dad brings home as a pet.

Father (François Marthouret), the doctor, and Mother (Évelyne Dandry), the nervous housewife, have raised two teens in their mansionette. Nicolas (Adrien de Van) is typically sullen and withdrawn, while Sophie (Marina de Van) is vivacious and enjoys a rollicking relationship with her boyfriend David (Stéphane Rideau). Both think the rat is cute. Mom, who hates the rat, hires a new spitfire of a housekeeper named Maria (Lucia Sanchez) and invites her and her African boyfriend Ebdu (Jules-Emmanuel Eyoum Deido) (whom Mom finds tres exotique in a slightly racist way) to a welcome dinner. It's at this dinner that Nicolas announces he's gay and storms upstairs. Ebdu volunteers to talk to the boy, but once he's in the bedroom, he takes sexual advantage.

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See the Sea Review


OK
Confirms everything you knew about how freaky and messed-up French people are. Story: Island-dwelling woman with little baby welcomes a drifter into her home while her husband is away. Drifter turns out to be psycho, as does mom. Despite a 52 minute running time, an awful lot of freakiness is traded back and forth before the ultimate, tragic ending. Very, very twisted.

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Criminal Lovers Review


Unbearable
She's a mouthy, demanding, bratty femme fatale who always wants her own way. Her cuckold is a slightly goofy young fellow who hangs on her every word and submissively goes along with whatever scheme she cooks up. These are our unsympathetic heroes in Francois Ozon's latest exercise in cinematic shock treatment, Criminal Lovers.

After a preliminary scene in bed where the girl, Alice (Natacha Regnier, unrecognizable from The Dreamlife of Angels), mouths off to the boy, Luc (Jeremie Renier), taking a photograph of his limp penis and threatening to mail it to his mother, they commit a violent crime. Without fully knowing their motive, our title characters meander into a high school shower and stab their jock classmate Said (Salim Kechiouche).

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Water Drops on Burning Rocks Review


Good
Four people are in a room dancing, Charlie's Angels style, fingers pointed like shooting guns and booties shaking. Heads bob up and down in time with the pop and fizz funk of the German record playing in the background.

Styled like a music video, we cut back and forth between all four of them swinging in sync with the rhythm and performing their individual motions with campy grandeur. After three or four minutes of this highly amusing, sexually charged romp and stomp in the living room, the middle aged businessman (obviously the leader of the group) abruptly turns off the record. "All right, that's enough. Everybody to the bedroom!" The women rush offscreen, giggling and squealing.

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Francois Ozon

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